Before you consider how you’ll develop a brand for your business, it’s important to know what branding is—and that means first understanding what it isn’t. Branding isn’t your logo. It isn’t a tagline or a mission statement. It isn’t a color palette or a tone of voice.

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It’s the Promise You Make

Simply stated, branding is all the above—but it’s also something else. Above all, branding is a promise you make to your customers and prospective customers—a promise about who you are, what you value and what you do. Smart branding entails effectively communicating that promise in everything you do—and of course delivering on it. HubSpot defines brand identity as follows:

“A brand identity is made up of what your brand says, what your values are, how you communicate your concepts, and the emotions you want your consumers to feel when they interact with your business. Essentially, your brand identity is the personality of your business and a promise to your consumers.”

Why Branding Is Critically Important

As Jeff Bezos of Amazon once said, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. “What he meant is that your brand is your company’s reputation. It’s what consumers remember about you, and what they consider unique about your business—and that’s important. According to Reputations Corporation, for example:

  • Almost 3 of every 4 of consumers say a company’s reputation influences their purchasing decisions
  • More than 80% of employees are willing to take smaller salaries if the companies they work for have stellar reputations
  • Almost 90% of consumers say when two products are of equal value, they’ll choose the one from the business with the stronger reputation

How to Develop Your Company’s Brand

Because branding affects every aspect of your business, it’s not something you develop overnight—or something you create once and then forget about. It requires accurate market research, the development of consistently-applied design standards, the creation of a company “voice,” and continual monitoring.

That said, here are 4 steps to create a brand that will work for your business:

  1. Do Your Homework

Your brand should be designed to respond to those consumers most likely to buy your products and services—your “audience,” in other words. That means of course that you need to know who your audience is, and that takes some market research.

For example, you need smart data (both behavioral and demographic) about your prospective customers. You need to use those data to develop a “unique selling proposition” that highlights what’s unique about your business, and why consumers should choose you over one of your competitors. Finally, you should complete a comprehensive SWOT Analysis—an assessment of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

  1. Establish Consistent Design Standards

When you see that iconic swoosh on a product, you know you’re looking at Nike. Their logo was carefully designed to appeal to sports enthusiasts, as were the other aspects of their design standards.

In addition to creating a memorable, compelling logo, you need to decide what colors and templates are permissible, and to document these rules within a clear and comprehensive style guide. Finally, you need to ensure that everyone who works for your business uses your style guide, and perform occasional “spot checks” to make sure there are no deviations from it.

  1. Find Your Voice

Do you want the voice that represents who you are to be corporate, conversational or colloquial? That’s an important decision, because the way you speak about your business tells prospective customers who you are and what’s important to you.

In some cases, your voice will be dependent on the nature of your industry—for example, a company that sells burial plots isn’t going to get very far is they decide to use humor. At the same time, however, it can be effective to buck the trend, the way Geico did when it decided to make insurance funny, and to put their messaging into the mouth of a small reptile. Whatever voice you choose, you need to apply it consistently, in all your messaging and content whether in blogs, articles, ads or on social media.

  1. Never Stop Measuring Results

It’s rare in marketing to get everything right the first time, whether it’s PPC ads, emails, social media marketing—or branding. So, like every other aspect of your marketing strategy, it’s important to A/B test elements of your brand, and to use a strong analytics program (like Google Analytics) to know which aspects of your brand are hitting the mark, and which are missing it. When you see that something is working especially well, double down on it. If something is falling short, change it.

Having a brand that works—a brand that resonates with consumers and helps you grow your business—is a critical component of a comprehensive, integrated marketing strategy, but it’s not the only one. To learn more about the ways our discovery and strategy, media and technology, creative and digital, social and activation services will help your business increase sales and grow, contact us today.